Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by maizenbluedoc, Dec 14, 2004.

  1. maizenbluedoc

    maizenbluedoc New Member

    I am seeking information about a supplier of model train tables. I would prefer a 4x8 or slightly less dimensions. Most of the ones I have found on the net look like children's play tables. Any information will be greatly appreciated.
  2. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Typically, model railroad benchwork (the "table") is built by the individual hobbyist to meet the needs of one's particular layout. Since, as a general rule, every model railroad is different (or can be different), benchwork is built to suit the needs of the individual.

    The simplest is "tabletop" construction--typically a rectangular framework of 1x4 boards with a sheet of plywood screwed onto it. This is the flat "table" you may have seen. Its advantages are simplicity and ease of construction, plus the ability to redesign one's track plan on the fly--disadvantages are heavy weight and flat profile (you really can't model bridges, ravines and mountains on such a layout.)

    An older but still common technique is "cookie-cutter" construction: A frame with regularly-spaced crossbraces is built, the plywood sheet is cut to closely match the outside dimensions of the track plan, and wooden risers hold the "cookie-cutter" plywood in place above the frame. Scenery is modeled in between the gaps in the "cookie-cutter" platform using techniques like hardshell (plaster-soaked paper towels over a cardboard-strip or balled-newspaper form) or foam or gauze & plaster.

    The frame can be a simple rectangular frame or a special lightweight framework known as "L-Girder" benchwork. The advantage here is that grades (slopes up and down) can be easily modeled, and since you're not using the cut-out areas, weight is much lighter than a traditional tabletop, and you lose that "children's play table" look.

    In the past decade or two, the use of extruded foam insulation sheets (and other foam-based products) for tabletops and scenery has become much more popular. While it takes a little practice to work with, foam sheets on top of a lightweight wooden framework can provide a lightweight, carveable tabletop surface that can be utilized as a flat surface (like the basic tabletop) but gullies can be carved below grade or mountains stacked above (like cookie-cutter.) There are some other tricks to foam--my advice is to read up on benchwork (either online, at your local library, or your local hobby shop) to get specific details on the how & why of benchwork.

    But, generally, you'll want to build your own. That way you'll get exactly the benchwork that you want.
  3. maizenbluedoc

    maizenbluedoc New Member

    Thank you very much for your information, it is most helpful. I somewhat deducted that there wasn't a great demand for preconstructed tables by their absence on the internet. I have the latest issue of Model Trains which has an excellent CD with step-by-step instructions on building a table. Just a thought on a prefab table. Right now I am recuperating from rotator cuff surgery and cannot use the necessary tools for building a table. I guess it will be ready for next Christmas. Again, thanks for the information.:thumb:
  4. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Hi doc, :wave:
    This was advertised in Railroad Model Craftsman.
    Seems like good quality and not all that expensive.
    I have seen others advertised also, maybe look in Model Railroader.

    Best of Luck,
  5. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Ow! One could always spend the time perfecting track plans and making up a few small kits...
  6. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Member

    If you're looking for a ready made table about 4'x8', how about a ping pong table? They're readily available and relatively cheap. The only problem is that they are awfully wide and would result in quite a reach to model in the middle. Given your surgery, it might be a problem.
  7. docsnavely

    docsnavely Member

    Here is the link to one of the product pages for Kato Japan.

    They make pre-fabricated panels for layouts. I know it says "for japan only", but any Kato dealer can probably work something out for you stateside. Maybe not though. You never know until you ask one.

    If you go to you can find the closest dealer. It's a longshot but if you really want to get a bench set up now, this might be the way. Good luck and feel better!!:wave:

  8. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

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